There has been a lot of talk about the New York Knicks and their prospects for success this season. Alongside returning cornerstones Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have added Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings this offseason.
This has heightened expectations in New York, and spearheading the team’s attack is the highly talented and athletic Rose. Before Russell Westbrook, Rose was one of the first point guards who captured the league’s attention with his explosive style of play. New head coach Jeff Hornacek has a high-paced offense that puts point guards in positions to succeed (like Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix). Put Rose in that system with a number of offensive weapons surrounding him and it’s not hard to imagine the 27-year-old having a strong season. In order for the Knicks to contend in the Eastern Conference, they’ll be relying heavily on the one-time league MVP.
With Rose positioned within Coach Hornacek’s offense to do what he does best – attack downhill and penetrate the lane – this could free up Porzingis, Anthony and Lee for more perimeter opportunities and easier looks at the basket. Hornacek may also opt to play his two new point guards together at times (as he did in Phoenix), especially since Jennings is a natural scorer and could be paired alongside Rose. There are numerous lineup permutations for New York to consider with this group.
This roster’s potential is creating increased optimism in New York, and the Knicks are hoping that the change of scenery – combined with the added incentive of a contract year – will be the impetus Rose needs to return to form. Playing well this year could enable Rose to secure a very lucrative deal next summer. And Rose’s production may be the X-factor for the Knicks this season, so both sides clearly need this marriage to work, even if just short-term, in order for them to live up to their full potential.
But for all the buzz surrounding the Knicks, we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss Rose’s injury history. Rose has exhibited chronic injury patterns dating back to his initial injury in 2011-12, when he tore his left ACL during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs. Since then, Rose has suffered three major knee injuries and has had three surgeries, causing him to miss 166 of the previous 312 games over the past four seasons. However, there are several tactics that could be employed to generate the performance outcomes that both Rose and and the Knicks desire this season.
One is to have Rose split time with Jennings in the backcourt to minimize the wear and tear on his body and mitigate further injuries. The Knicks could use a strict minute-per-game limit, much like a pitch count, to manage the physical strain on his body throughout the season. This strategy could be effective in saving him for a late playoff push, and allowing Rose to play more minutes per game if the Knicks do get that far. Another approach could be to play Rose off of the ball at times, allowing Jennings to assume more of the point guard duties. This could give Rose a chance to attack from different angles on the court, while leaving Jennings responsible for running the team and keeping Rose fresher for the stretch run.
Another suggestion is to look a little deeper into what may be contributing to Rose’s repetitive injury challenges. One approach some college and professional athletes are beginning to use to eliminate discord associated with injuries are energy psychology performance techniques. These techniques identify and remove blockages within the acupuncture system of a player.
One player with a similar injury history to Rose who benefited greatly from this approach was former Drexel University player Chris Fouch. Fouch, the fifth all-time leader scorer at the school, was forced to suffer two redshirt years because of a series of injuries. In 2013-14, prior to his sixth and final season at Drexel, Fouch went through a four-week program that eliminated blockages causing the guarding, fear of re-injury and lack of trust that he experienced from his past health issues.
“This kid had two major knee surgeries, a broken ankle, a shoulder injury and he was having problems with his recovery,” former Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint said. “The work really helped the kid get over his hurdles, and he had probably one of the most productive seasons of career. It got him to mentally and physically get over the things that really held him back throughout this career. He became one of the all-time leading scorers here at the school. He played a full season; it was the first time in his career that he actually played a full-season at Drexel.”
This same sort of program implemented for Rose could potentially alleviate many of the same sorts of guarding and fear-of-re-injury sensations that Fouch experienced, giving Rose the chance to take his game to the next level this season.
As the Knicks gear up for 2016-17, a hybrid approach that regulates minutes played and usage within offense while also eliminating discord from past injuries could be key for Rose. Doing so could unleash the dynamic playmaker we’ve all seen Rose can be, which could allow the Knicks to make serious noise in the Eastern Conference for the first time in a while.
After playing four years of college basketball at Drexel University, Jake Rauchbach earned an MBA from Drexel and a masters in The Psychology of Human Movement from Temple University. He coached at the collegiate level, founded The MindRight Pro Program and trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes.
Make sure to follow Basketball Insiders on Twitter at @BBallInsiders.